How to Look After Your Mental Health During Coronavirus22nd May 2020
We’ve all been told to stay safe, stay home and wash our hands – but how can we look after our emotional and mental health during Coronavirus?
As the world continues to deal with the pandemic, health officials are still recommending social-distancing and self-isolation practices to slow the spread of the disease. This means, for the foreseeable future, we’ll be spending a lot more time at home. Our daily routines have already shifted, and we are largely living without the usual face-to-face social contact that helps keep us feeling more connected and positive.
That’s why now, more than ever before, prioritising emotional and mental health is so important. Luckily, there are so many things you can do at home to boost your positivity. Not only are these good life practices in general, but also a great way to manage anxiety, help you stay healthy and give your days more structure.
To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some of the best self-care tips from professional resources in the self-care and wellness field that you can start practicing today.
Step into a Routine
If you have been self-isolating for a while, you might start feeling like the days are getting long and repetitive. Structure can really help our mental health, and routine can help you adjust to a new situation and make it feel more normal. Some ideas could be to:
- Plan to get dressed and have breakfast at a good time in the mornings.
- Plan activities for the days ahead so you’ve always got things to prepare for and look forward to.
- Make to-do lists each day so that you can tick off things you’ve done. This will give you a feeling of achievement every day.
- Create a ‘housework’ rota for your room. In any situation, a tidy room usually creates a more relaxed environment. Tidying up can also help you feel calmer, because it is quite gentle physical activity.
Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to lounge around all day. Moving your body for 30 minutes a day is a great self-care practice to get endorphins flowing and boost energy. Aerobic exercise is one of the top ways to reduce anxiety levels. There are a ton of free high-quality home workouts on YouTube, such as Joe Wicks PE Lessons and HIIT training. If you are feeling ambitious, you could even try the couch to 5k challenge, or if you prefer to start off with some lighter exercise, you could venture out for a leisurely walk to explore your local area. If you are unable to go out at the moment, you can access the beautiful landscapes of Dorset through Dorset Mind’s website, where they can help you to virtually escape to your favourite part of the county.
At times like these it can be tempting to overindulge in high sugar foods like chocolate, crisps and sweets. Although these are all fine in moderation, evidence suggests that as well as food affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel. Improving your diet can help to improve your mood, give you more energy, and think more clearly. You can read more into this on Mind’s blog post here.
Keep a Good Sleep Pattern
Healthy sleep has been proven to be integral to maintaining healthy emotional and social functioning. Setting up a consistent, relaxing routine before bed helps to train your brain to recognise that it is time to wind down, making it easier for you to fall asleep. For thirty minutes to an hour before bed, find peaceful, quiet things to do to relax your body and mind – such as reading a light book or magazine, listening to soft music or audiobooks, enjoying a hobby such as drawing or doing puzzles, or making simple preparations for the next day. The Mental Health Foundation have put together a useful post on sleep here.
Learn New Things
All of this free time provides the perfect opportunity for introspection and self-growth. Maybe for years you’ve wanted to start creating more, or maybe you’ve always wanted to read more. No time is greater than the present to tackle some goals and make changes you’ve always wanted to. There are lots of new activities you could explore, many of which we wrote about here in our previous blog post.
Limit Screen Time
Social media, whilst it can be a great way to connect with others during this time, can also be an unhelpful overload with all the endless scrolling. Follow positive accounts, don’t believe everything you read, and if you think you are using social media too much for your wellbeing, see if you can limit the amount of time you spend on it by setting up a time limit, or temporarily deleting the app.
In addition, while it’s important to remain informed, if you spend your entire day watching and thinking about the latest news, it can sometimes create a mindset of powerlessness and panic. Taking a break from it all can help reduce stress and give your mind room for positive thinking. Even just taking an hour a day to switch off all your electronics and disconnect for a bit can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
Stay Connected with Friends and Family
Your friends are used to hanging out with you in person most of the time, but now is a chance to carry on in new and creative ways. Video calls are a great way to see each other’s faces, as well as hear each other’s voices. You can feel more a part of each other’s day when you can be yourself on a video chat. Older members of your family, or others who live alone who are self-isolating elsewhere, might really appreciate video calls from you too.
Here are some more ways to help feel connected with friends and family:
- Play a game of charades over Zoom
- One-minute discos – send each other videos of yourselves dancing to a favourite track
- Send each other photos of your daily achievements – maybe some baking, or something you’ve been working on
- Exchange wholesome memes that make you smile
- Share online quizzes and compare results
- Reach out to a family member or friend that you don’t often talk to and ask them how they are.
Create a Gratitude Diary
As the world deals with uncertain times, it can be easy to look at this entire experience negatively. But what if you paused and decided to focus on the positives instead? What if you used this time to be grateful for all the good in your life? This is a great opportunity to slow down, be present and feel gratitude for moments that we often take for granted, like taking a leisurely walk, having more time with pets or doing a hobby. Journal one thing that you are grateful for at the end of each day, or perhaps gather together some quotes of ‘hope’, that you can read back on when you need it the most.
You don’t have to feel alone. If you are worried about anything, you can always reach out for help. Speak to a friend, family member, or someone you trust. You can also speak to a helpline. If you are worried about your privacy because of lots of people self-isolating in your house, you can often get in touch with helplines by email or text instead of by phone. We have listed some useful extra resources and support helplines for you below: